For those familiar with botulinum toxins (botox for ease), they are usually fans of it. For a lot of others, it feels really scary and has a sense of ‘once you start, you can never stop’. So, what is the real deal with botox? Is there a ‘perfect’ age to start? Should you even start it at all? Is there a point when you should stop? Can you ever stop once you start? The questions go on and I will try to answer some of them.
For transparency, I will let you in on a little admission: I use botox for myself and have been doing it for a few years now. I like things really natural so a lot of people find it hard to tell that I’ve had any (although if you’re really good, you might be able to tell). I started in my late 30s and now am in my 40s. So my opinions are real- based on my personal and my patient’s experiences- but I may be a bit biased as I do love botox!
The best age to start botox
Whilst its commendable to go around claiming that botox should not be done below or above a certain age, it simply is not as simple as that. When one takes into account genetic ageing, sun damage, environmental & toxin exposure, stress, it completely changes the way one ages. You could easily have a set of twins, one decides to stay in the countryside, marries her childhood sweetheart, has a relatively happy life. The other twin decided to find her fortune in the city, has the time of her life but with a lifestyle that involves heavy partying, holidays abroad etc. Let’s just say both are about 7/10 of the happiness scale. Who do you think will have more signs of ageing? My point is that age is relative. Its more about what it is doing to your confidence, if your lines concern you and if you have realistic expectations.
My opinion on ‘preventive’ botox
Every so often, I get asked to do botox as a preventive measure. There are generally 3 kinds of requests that go along with this.
Someone with existing wrinkles who don’t want things to get any worse.
Someone with no obvious wrinkles but are very aware of what the future holds!
Someone who doesn’t want lines when they speak.
1 is nice and simple and forms the majority of people wanting botox. Botox works well and they will find that after a year, their lines appear much softer, even if they don’t continue with botox.
2 is a bit on the fence. I personally don’t think its a good idea to start that early. The reason is because too many years of botox use, especially on normal sized muscles will cause atrophy (when muscles go very flat due to disuse) and that’s when you get that flat, shiny forehead. So I’d wait a bit here.
3 feels similar to 2 to me and frankly makes me a bit sad. Why wouldn’t someone want to show expression? Thankfully, this is quite rare especially now that having facial expressions is back in - I think Hollywood finally caught on!
How old is too old?
I personally think that there’s a place for botox at any age over 45. Just don’t make the mistake of doing too much as it can then look artificial i.e. parts of your face is smooth and other parts crepey and wrinkled. Your practitioner should advise you on a resulting look which will work with the rest of your face. In the right hands, if a more holistic approach is undertaken, a combination of different therapies like filler, mesotherapy, radiofrequency etc can shave years off, but in a very natural way. No need for facelifts!
Can you stop botox once you've started on this journey? Of course. You have to not mind a bit of expression though, which I find a lot of people tend to prefer with age anyways.
As an end note, look at lots of pictures, talk to lots of people, read blogs and forums and get an ethical practitioner.